Amplified

Acoustics contain the property of sound. Sound that bounces off walls and sends signals to our ears. Sound that reverberates, creates motion and sometimes creates a soothing peace. It is the action of sound that sends out waves that send signals back to us. But what is the sound that we are putting out?

When I preach, I listen- I comprehend. I hear. But this hearing is not natural, it is in the supernatural. The ears hear but the soul understands and converts the message. If the instrument of music sends out the sound, I am receiving the reverberation.

We hear by accepting the Word of God and putting it into action. It is a verb, a doing. It is not a stillness. But it is only in stillness that we hear. So the stillness comes before sound, comes before it all.

The Word of God is demanding and active, it is not passive. It requires us to be uncomfortable enough to change and to focus on ourselves, so that we become more like Him. As we turn our attention inward, this radiates outward. This is when we can turn the other cheek because then it doesn’t hurt.

It all started for me with a gospel passage I read one Sunday. It was God’s call within a call for me. That the sacrament of marriage is not just for me and my family but for all of you. That each of us are building blocks that form the foundation of the church. And as the stones are forming the very bottom, the sides, and  up to the top, the cracks in the foundation are forming. Our marriages are crumbling. And Christ is on his knees while we are asleep in the garden.

The verse that started my call within a call was this admonition, this cry from Christ, found in Luke 6:27:

But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you

At first glance I had heard it all before. Yes Lord I know.

No, no you don’t. He said. Read it again.

But to you who hear…

I couldn’t go any further. You who hear. You…who…HEAR. The admonition Christ gave was not to everyone. It was to anyone who had ears to hear.

The day before, I had been to a lecture by Dr. Scott Hahn who spoke about the sacrament of marriage. I could hardly stay in my seat as I felt God nudge me several times during his presentation. This is the foundation of the church. This is the blood. This is the cross. This is everything.

Dr. Hahn’s words disappeared for me, but the Lord’s did not.

Feed my sheep, I heard… twice

Feed …my… sheep

And the call was deep and wide. And it was present. It was NOW.

As Dr. Hahn said, as we pray the rosary, as we pray the Hail Mary’s, the Blessed Virgin, our mother is present in the now and at the hour of our death. It wasn’t the hour of death that scared me, it was the present. It was coming to the realization that Mary was praying for me Now. That the time was Now. That time was happening now. And that is what was certainly running out…

I came back from Dr. Hahn’s talk with a deeply abiding conviction. My marriage has been saved by Christ. It was the reason that I was a Christian after all. But was this something that I only shared and talked about in the confines of my own home? In small circles? Was I really being honest in the ways in which God saved my marriage, the issues we faced and the rebuilding that we did and are still doing? I was fearful, ashamed and sitting with all of it. Until I heard the words from the gospel passage again :

But to you who hear…

The greek word for hear is akouo pronounced (ak-oo-o). I hear, I listen, I comprehend by hearing the word of God. But it is more than that. How God can I hear you? How can I be one of the ones who is sure to hear the next words out of your mouth?

The word akouo is the root of the english term acoustics. Acoustics are the property of sound. It is God audible. But how great is our hearing?

Acoustics is sound reproduced mechanically rather than electronically. It is not manufactured. It is of, relating to, or being a musical instrument whose sound is not electronically modified. It is sound that is pure and whole and not manufactured.

This was the hearing God was talking about. No enhancement. No enhancing of our own sound but instead allowing His sound to reverberate not off walls but instead the depths of our souls. That the word of God was not changed or altered or manufactured but instead pure and holy and true. And that sound, that sound in its purest form resonating in my ears, in your ears and down into the deepest darkest places. How can we read the rest of the gospel sentence if we cannot hear. We cannot.

And so with my newfound discovery I readied and steadied myself to HEAR the word of God. But not just to hear, but to HEAR. To listen to scripture as a an acoustic guitar with no amplifier, with its breaks and rhythms and strings and hard pauses. With the purity of finger to string and breath and pain in my fingers from producing rich sound. It is not manufactured but produced by the soul. And God’s Holy word became the acoustics, my soul the wall of sound and suddenly there was no need for an amplifier.

The next part of the gospel came like a rushing wind…

Love your enemies

And that’s when I heard it. That’s when I heard the call within a call.

And who is your enemy?

Your husband. 

What, what Lord are you talking about! These were not the next words I expected to hear and certainly not the call I was expecting.

This is the state of marriages, the Lord said. This is what they hear.

I was spinning. It was a great sadness. I was overcome with the crashing of the verse, the real truth, the lack of amplifier. It was rawer than I had ever expected and full of sorrow. What was breaking up the church? We were.

Let the one who among you is without sin be the first to throw a stone

The stone had been in my hand. I had felt its hard and abrasive outsides. It was impenetrable. And the world swallowed my marriage alive.

But I was no longer in the world, I was in God’s church. But the same monster, the same Satan who had deeply embedded his fingers into me was the same Satan who had managed to get through the church of Jesus Christ.

Who is my enemy?

And God showed me the thoughts of so many. Marriages in separation. Marriages on the verge of divorce. Divorce itself. Excuses. Abortion. Broken families. Children with multiple fathers and mothers. Fighting and chaos and the killing of each other. There are knives in our hands.

We talk about the atheist and secularist as the murderers of our faith, but we have named the wrong suspect.

Who is my enemy?

I look around and see that it is us. We are the enemies of our own church. We are the betrayers of Christ.

If we do not start rebuilding our marriages, being honest with each other, shouting out, “Crucify Him!” we will never get better. Because it is your marriage that effects my marriage that effects my children that effects my church. Our marriages are sacramental, they do not belong to us, they belong to God. And as Christ hangs on the tree at the center of every mass we celebrate, we spit on him, roll dice for his garments and crucify him all over again; all before accepting his body, blood, soul and divinity and pretending that we are ok to do so.

So this is a call to action. Are we ready to stand with Christ and fight the evil one, the dragon, the accuser and destroyer of our faith, or will we simply meld into the world, pointing to self and saying that our behavior is ok? Change only begins when we recognize our enemy. And this enemy is not our spouse.

Jesus’ demands and commands go far beyond what we think and feel. He requires greater. And the last part of the verse…

Here. Here is my other cheek!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Unexpected Invitations

It has been almost two months that I have been in the dark. I have been there before. It is dark and lonely and void of God’s presence, at least to those of us who live there. 

I have spent the time twisting and turning and writhing to find my place. Saying to myself, this is part of the journey, allowing myself to accept the time in the desert. But this time felt different. In the deserts that I have experienced before it was not God’s presence that was lacking but my own. I wouldn’t say I was alone this time. I would say that the black hole that consumed me was something beyond me. Something I had never experienced.

It wasn’t until a trip to the Blessed Sacrament that I cried out. I could not contain it. I went there specifically to cry and to beg God to come back to me, even though I know that he never left. But this daunting darkness consumed me and I hoped it wasn’t what Mother Teresa had experienced. I am no saint and I knew that I was not ready for all of that. I asked God in one breath to show up. I thought how nice it would be if the lights went dark in that chapel. Then they did. Then Father walked in. 1- God, Melissa-0.

And I left that place full of hope, knowing that in that tiny prayer, I could expect God to answer. That a single visit in the darkness could bring light. That things, they could change.

It was 5:30 am when my eyes opened. I was at peace, different from my emotional outcry the day before. I needed a good meditative piece to read and I thought of Elizabeth Scalia and checked aleteia. There it was staring me in the face- the reason for my darkness.

The piece was entitled, Are all these sexual abuse revelations triggering you? They are Me! I read it quick and with bated breath. That there could be another human on earth who could be sent to decipher my pain. We forget about one another. We don’t take the time to listen to one another. We are wild beasts ravaging around this crazy world. 

It was that sentence, the one that freed me. The one that diagnosed me. The one that let me out of my prison sentence. Two months hard labor in the darkness had been two months too long. But the words, her words, brought that first ray of light.

if you are lately feeling out of sorts — if you are feeling unaccountably sad, moody, unfocused, angry,  ashamed — if you have that cloud hovering over you, consider that perhaps you are being triggered, all subconsciously.

The weight of the Weinsteins and the Matt Lauer’s was all-consuming. The women who were getting justice while I was not. The lingering effects of sexual abuse that seep in like the bite from a poisonous snake as you slowly die without even realizing it. It is a deadly poison and a scary thought to think that you are dying and nobody has noticed. Oh how well we as victims can hide the pain.

So I pass Elizabeth’s message on to you. For those who have been living in a subconscious darkness. For predators. For the empathetic who are effected by the headlines. And for my brothers and sisters who still suffer the vile effects of sexual abuse. Know that God hasn’t left you. He is present, we need only move away the cloud.

#whynotme

I deleted my blog in the hopes that I could run away from the very thing that God called me to- talking about my abuse. It is such a thing to deny one’s call amidst the notion that the call is inextricably tied to suffering. Most people understand suffering in the context of misery and pain and not in the light in which Christ bathes it. Shunned is the man who walks away from the light. This man indeed calls himself a Christian.

In the arms of the gospel, Christ’s soldiers falter for just an ounce of understanding, for one inkling of His mind. And when we spend enough time on the one word, or the one story that particularly convicts us, its uncomfortable sway leads us to continue on as if we never read it. Such for me was the parable of the Dishonest Steward found in Luke’s gospel Chapter 16. It took me ten times to read it, and hours of rage to understand it. I wanted it to come easy, like this is what he says I read it let’s move on. Like that run on sentence. Like we read, move on with our day, we completed one-third of our day, I got it Jesus. But today was different. With the day off and imminent silence, the frustration of His words led to a rush of trying to understand Him. And that led to an Aha moment, which in turn led to this post.

It was the commentary from MacLaren that pierced me, opening wide the gaping wound sewed up with the consolation of knowing He was behind them,

Let God be Your End

He was talking about applying the same success used in the world as being the same success we should use in Christianity. He goes on further to say,

“And let there be a correspondence between your end and your means. That signifies, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all they mind.’ Or else when everything comes to be squared up and settled, the epitaph on your gravestone will deservedly be. ‘Thou fool!”

When we find success in the world, we find it at the expense of another, at the expense of ourselves. Our means to an end are for our own self-fulfillment, our monetary gain, our own name recognition. We may not recognize it and so then it is simply a matter of time until we do. But when Christ lifts the veil from our eyes as He did today for me, I realize that I am tired and broken because my perseverance has been weighed down in the worldly definitions of success rather than in the context of the Kingdom. My shrewdness has been capitulated to the world, shrouded in defeat of the success I thought I wanted or needed to attain. So I say no not #metoo, I say instead #whynotme. For those of us who have suffered at the hands of our abusers but who find our solace in Christ. For those of us who are not recognized by Hollywood or by professional sports leagues. For those of us who are not rich or famous. This is perseverance in the kingdom of God- recognizing our abuse as a platform for Christ’s message of forgiveness, mercy and redemption through Him who gives suffering a meaning and a name. Who gave me my name- Melissa, servant of Jesus.